Community frustrated after problem neighbor moves in with RV after demolition

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – One Albuquerque neighborhood says they’re fed up with a nuisance neighbor that just won’t go away, even after his home was demolished. They say he’s still breaking the rules and they want him gone for good.

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Neighbors on Hannett Avenue NE near Broadway and I-40 in the Martineztown community thought a housefire and demolition was the end of their problems, until the man set up on the dirt lot with an RV, refusing to leave.

They say the man has been a problem for years. “Once he moved in, I’d say six years ago, is when it started getting really bad,” said one neighbor, who wished to remain anonymous. “First it was tires everywhere, and then he’d start piling random things. You’d see random fridges, whatever he could really find was there.”

KRQE News 13 first reported on the problem house back in Dec. 2019 when the man living there ran an illegal tire shop, and returned to the neighborhood earlier this year when a fire broke out overnight. “Honestly, we were kind of waiting for something like that to happen. It was always something with him,” said the neighbor. “We hoped that it was the end of the problem, we were just like, good riddance, we were done with it, there were no issues with it.”

The city said the house was structurally unsound and had it demolished in February with the foundation dug up the next month. However, neighbors say it wasn’t long before he was back. “When the house was being demolished, he was over there with the people who were demolishing it, kind of making their jobs hard. That’s when we knew, this wasn’t the end of it,” said the neighbor. “He was living in a tent for quite a while and then one day, the RV just popped up and then he started building a wall.”

The once-empty lot is now covered in trash, junk, and vehicles. The large RV takes up almost half the lot, which the city says is a no-go. “In this scenario or for other properties that are similar to this situation where it’s simply just a vacant lot, living in an RV, even if you’re the owner of the RV and the lot, that’s not allowed, under the code,” said Brennon Williams, the City of Albuquerque’s planning director. “We want to make sure that people are safe and that’s why, in a situation like this, pulling up an RV on a vacant lot and living there or camping out there is not something that’s allowed by the city.”

So why is the man still setting up camp, months later? The city’s planning department says it took a while to figure out who the owner was now, since the original elderly owner had passed away.

“It appears that the owner, the former owner, passed away in the last several months and prior to that, had filed some paperwork with the courts to deed the property over to other family members, one of which, we believe, is the gentleman who’s living in the RV on the site,” said Williams. “Because of all the problems that we’ve already experienced and all of the effort and that work that’s gone into trying to bring this property into compliance, the only option we have at this point is to file a criminal complaint with the Metropolitan Court and take this matter before a judge.”

The city says they understand the frustration of neighbors. However, they hope they’ll be patient as the case heads to the courts.

The city’s planning department tells us even though the man may own the property, it still doesn’t give him permission to use the RV as a dwelling at that site. City code prevents him — and other property owners — from setting up camp in a vacant residential lot. The city does plan to file a criminal charge against him.

News 13 also asked if there is any lien on the property because of the cost of demolition. They say the debts resulting from that are the responsibility of the owner but did not say if any payments have been made.

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